Q: When I travel to races, how can I ensure I make healthy eating decisions?
A: Traveling for races may disrupt your regular routine of eating at your favorite restaurants or cooking in your own kitchen. But that doesn’t mean all your good habits and well-honed diet need to go out the window. Here are some tips to keep you on track when you’re away from home.
Do your research
Prior to arriving at your destination, find out where the supermarkets, cafés and healthy restaurants are. Does your hotel have in-room kitchenettes?
If you’re road tripping or have a long flight ahead, avoid the temptation of gas station or airport snacks and pack these travel-friendly foods instead:
Bananas and apples, nuts in Ziploc bags, fruit- and nut-based bars such as Lara Bars or Clif Kit’s Organic Fruit and Nut Bars.
If you have an insulated bag, bring hard-boiled eggs, fruit salad and grilled or roasted vegetables.
Don’t forget your race nutrition (gels, bars, sports drink powder). You may also want to bring your breakfast if you are not confident of being able to source your preferred pre-race fuel on the road.
Avoid certain foods
Legumes/beans, carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners can all lead to bloating and other GI problems, meaning discomfort for you and/or your traveling companions.
Forget the gourmet experience
When it’s all about getting the right nutrients, choose meals you can easily assemble (even in your hotel room).
Tuna, rice and tomato. For a good mix of carbs, proteins and fats that’s light on fiber and volume, pick up canned tuna, partially cooked rice packets (microwavable) and a juicy tomato you can slice up.
Egg and noodles. If you only have a kettle, buy rice noodles and add either a hard-boiled egg, or a raw egg when you add the boiling water. Cover, let sit and allow to cook through. Look for natural flavored noodles—or buy a separate natural sauce and ditch the packets with flavors and preservatives.
Chicken, avocado and sweet potato. Buy some BBQ chicken or a packet of smoked salmon. Microwave sweet potatoes until tender and split down the center. Fill with chicken or salmon, avocado and a dollop of sour cream.
Steer clear of restaurant traps
Even the most dubious eating establishments have plenty of healthy choices if you aren’t afraid to ask for what you want. Be polite and (most of the time) the restaurant staff will accommodate you. Just be sure to avoid the following foods:
Breadsticks. Refined carbs are easy to fill up on and will leave you feeling heavy. Ask for them not to be brought to the table (or taken away if already there). If you feel the need to carbo-load, then look to carbs such as rice, potatoes or sweet potatoes, which will not leave you feeling heavy and lethargic come race morning.
Heavy cream sauces and fried foods. Too much fat right before a race will slow gastric emptying and could increase your risk of GI distress.
Spices and exotic flavors. Keep things simple and familiar. Save the experimental eating for after your race, when it’s safer to indulge your tastebuds.
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